Oh, for the good old days when backup software was a simple affair.
You selected the data to be backed up, the target device — a tape or hard disk drive — set the schedule to run at night or the weekend, and that was the end of it.
Modern backup systems are far more sophisticated. They can backup to multiple locations and media, operate wholly in the cloud, can stage backups between different media to speed the process, conduct incremental backups, and use deduplication and compression.
Backup software is a changing space. Here are some of the top trends in the backup software market:
The bad guys have been so successful at infecting backups as part of holding organizations to a ransom that ransomware protection has rapidly become a cost of entry among backup vendors.
“The most significant trend in backup software is the vendors’ ever-improving ability to quickly detect a ransomware attack and recover from it,” said George Crump, CMO, StorOne.
“Vendors are enabling more granular protection via block-level backups and rapid recoveries via instant recovery features that instantiate an application’s data on the backup storage target. Detection looks for unusual spikes in read/write activity and offers a pointer to the last known good copy of data.”
As a result, modern backup storage must have at least some flash capacity to keep pace with the high number of and more frequent backup jobs. They also need a flash tier to complement the backup software’s instant recovery capabilities. And backup storage targets need to provide an extra layer of ransomware resilience by immutably storing backup data.
Backup and cybersecurity convergence
This adds up to an overall convergence in the once-discrete worlds of backup software and cybersecurity.
IT operations and backup administrators may own the backups and budget, but the security expertise often sits in the CISO’s group. Both groups need to get on the same page.
“Originally, backup was essential to secure data in the case of physical threats, such as flooding, fire, or even sprinklers going off in the server room. But today, it’s a non-issue with the advent of the cloud,” said Peter Nourse, CRO and CMO, Asigra.
“The threat that keeps everyone awake at night is malware and specifically, ransomware.”
Cybercriminals are exploiting organizational gaps and the outmoded backup security that exists in many organizations. Advanced attacks routinely penetrate immutable and air-gapped storage, common defenses for protecting backup, using attacks that have been around for years, such as Trojan-horse/sleeper attacks and credential theft.
“Unfortunately, IT operations may not be aware of these attack techniques and assume their last line of defense is well protected,” Nourse said.
“We’re seeing the best organizations utilize backup solutions with integrated and multi-layered security that evolves along with the advancing attack vectors.”
There is so much data around in so many places that backup management has become something of a nightmare.
It is commonplace, for example, for organizations recovering from an event to discover several shortcomings in their backups. Whether due to corrupt backups or poor security, or entire sites, apps, or databases not being included in the enterprise backup schedule backup management has become complicated.
Centralized management is emerging to deal with these concerns. Sophisticated management consoles enable IT to view the completeness and integrity of backups.
“As enterprises move toward a hybrid IT model, and workloads are distributed across the data center, public cloud and the edge, protecting these workloads, irrespective of location, is critical,” said Michael Hoeck, an analyst at Gartner.
“Leading backup vendors are addressing this by offering a management platform that can be deployed either in the main data center or increasingly as-a-service hosted in the public cloud.”
Database backup expansion
Databases used to be contained purely within relational database management systems (RDMSs). But the rise of unstructured data saw the need for alternative architectures.
NoSQL databases, for example, are non-tabular databases that store data differently than relational tables. They have become popular and widespread since they appeared on the scene in the early years of the millennium.
Backup software vendors were initially a little late to the party. But in recent years, they have begun to incorporate NoSQL backup features into their solutions. Instead of Oracle and Microsoft SQL RDBMS databases, big data projects tend to leverage NoSQL databases, such as MongoDB and Cassandra. Rubrik and Cohesity, for example, have acquired other companies to be able to incorporate this form of backup.
“Established vendors, such as Commvault, Dell Technologies, and Veritas Technologies, have started addressing these backup requirements by building such capabilities natively into the backup platform,” said Hoeck with Gartner.